Hurricane Laura topples controversial Confederate statue outside courthouse in Lake Charles


Hurricane Laura tore down a controversial Confederate statue in Louisiana after one of the strongest hurricanes ever to strike the United States pounded the Gulf Coast.

Local officials had voted days earlier to keep the 105-year-old statue in front of the courthouse in Lake Charles.

Pictures show the statue, which depicted a Confederate soldier on a marble pedestal, on its side after Laura passed through low-lying Louisiana and clobbered the industrial and casino city of 80,000 people.

Controversial monuments, especially Confederate monuments, have been the subject of nationwide debate following the death of George Floyd. But local officials voted to keep it following uproar.

On Broad Street, many buildings had partially collapsed, windows were blown out, awnings ripped away and trees split in half in eerily misshapen ways.

A floating casino came unmoored and hit a bridge, and small planes were thrown on top of each other at the airport.

A 14-year-old girl is among at least six people who have died.

The teenage girl and a 68-year-old man died when trees fell on their homes in Louisiana, and a 24-year-old man died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator inside his house.

Another man drowned in a boat that sank during the storm, authorities said.

No deaths had been confirmed in Texas, which Republican Governor Greg Abbott called "a miracle".

The hurricane’s top wind speed of 150 mph put it among the most powerful systems on record in the United States.

Trees were down and power was out as far north as Arkansas, as the once fearsome Category 4 hurricane weakened to a depression overnight.

Forecasters said an eastern turn would now make the storm a "looming threat" to the densely populated Eastern Seaboard.

The storm could re-energize and pose a threat to several Northeastern states by Saturday, forecasters said.